With summer approaching, most families change their schedules to include vacations and downtime. It is a celebrated time, one that most parents reminisce about their own childhood summers filled with beaches, pools, late nights watching the stars, camping and roasting marshmallows. As parents we try to reinvent this for our own children because we enjoyed it all so much. But it can be tiring!
As I have said last year in Surviving Summer, this is probably the most difficult season for parents with children with special needs. Typically children with special needs thrive on a constant schedule filled with short bursts of activities that change at regular intervals - like a classroom setting or a well-run camp. Parents and families trying to imitate this is near impossible without their own housekeeper and camp counselor staff.
I had a taste of summer this past week. It was spring break for us and all three boys were home with me. We had late mornings and then an activity and doctor's appointment planned each day and then swim lessons at 5pm. I write this on the Thursday of that week and I am near exhaustion. I also have TV guilt, you know that guilt - the one where you are sure your family has single-handedly raised the national average for TV viewing hours per week.
So this year, I am armed with a plan for surviving this summer and I am hoping to motivate others to think about their own schedule:
1. Ben will get to camp later in the morning. No sense is rushing or waking up sleeping beauties.
2. Therapists will see Ben at camp later in the afternoon. We can have a summer free from therapists visiting our home. We do love them, but it is nice to have a short break.
3. I am arranging for our community workers to pick Ben up from camp 1-2 days a week so I can get dinner started and the other boys can chill. Hopefully this will eliminate some of the rushing around feeling I felt last summer.
4. Ben is not attending the first week of camp for two reasons. I noticed last year that the staff was still working out the kinks in the schedule and training counselors, so they were a bit disorganized. Now we will have a week to hang out at home, rest up from finishing school and then travel to see grandparents and cousins.
5. Have a pajama day once in awhile - even if it means skipping camp.
6. Try to keep to a regular bedtime routine at night. Sometimes during summer or holiday breaks, I let everything slide and we all feel it. If I am exhausted right now, so are the kids. Their routine is broken, swimming is kicking their little behinds and they need more sleep, not less.
So here's to a good summer. Plan it well and then take a breather every once in awhile.